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1 Volume 5 ONTARIO NATIVE WOMEN S ASSOCIATION Aboriginal Leadership Development Program Strategic and Business Planning

2 A B O R I G I N A L W O M E N S L E A D E R S H I P Strategic and Business Planning Ontario Native Women s Association 212 E. Miles Street, Thunder Bay, ON P7C 2J1 Tel; (807) Fax: (807) Funded by:

3 Table of Contents Strategic and Business Planning... 1 The Need... 1 Considerations... 2 SWOT... 3 Developing Strategies... 4 Long term versus short term planning... 5 Putting the Plan into Action... 6 The Difference between Strategic and Business Objectives... 7 Managing the Business Plan... 8 Making the Strategic Plan work for the Organization... 9 Management of Performance is a Dynamic Process Succession Planning For Key Board and Staff Positions... 11

4 Chapter1 Strategic and Business Planning Strategic and Business Planning The Need A strong board of director s will outline an organization s direction by providing a strategic plan. It is the board s responsibility for adopting a strategic plan to identify the overall direction for the organization which will help management to develop and monitor the strategic plan. Good planning is a necessity for all organizations because it utilizes collective expertise and is the tool to assist organizations in adapting and focusing to achieve the same direction. An organizational business plan incorporates all other plans created in the course of doing business including the strategic plan, the risk management plan, the marketing plan, the financing plan and the budget. Many of these plans are interdependent. For example, the risk management plan is driven by the strategic priorities outlined in the strategic plan. Developing policies and procedures for business planning helps make the overall planning process more coherent, particularly with respect to time sequencing. 1

5 Considerations Good planning may seem like a great deal of work, especially for smaller organizations or locals. Due to limited funding or have enough trouble keeping up with day to day activities, it may seem an insurmountable task. But it is an essential tool for the success of all involved with your group. It is the same a planning for a community feast or a hosting a workshop. Everything falls into place if you take the time to map out what is going to happen or what you anticipate happening. By taking the time to plan for your local, it assists the group to work together to go in the same direction. If you break the words down, strategy meaning an objective that is essential to winning a battle or war, and tactic meaning a smaller contribution to achieving that, it makes sense to do so. Sure we may not be at war, but much of what we do is a struggle and a good plan will help your group get there together. See the strategy as the endeavours that will take the organization in a certain direction toward a particular state. The tactics, will be the actions or measurable objectives that will help the organization achieve the overall strategy. 2

6 SWOT Strategic planning is a process used by the Board of Director s and the Senior Management team to view the whole organization including all of it s strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities outside of itself that are available and any threats that may arise that may be harmful to the organization. The strengths and weakness sections would be considered internally (organization) and the opportunities and threats would be considered from an external perspective (environment). One popular technique is to list strengths and weaknesses (of the organization) as well as opportunities and threats (from the environment). This SWOT summary can be set out in four quadrants on one sheet of paper to provide a concise summary to guide strategy and tactical planning. SWOT Analysis Worksheet Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats This could be placed on a flip chart and have the group brainstorm the quadrants. 3

7 Developing Strategies When developing strategies it is a good idea to think of both directions and size as a guide for the organization to follow and to achieve the most success in the long term. We need strategies, so that the organization will make the necessary steps to reach their long term goals. Without these strategies, organizations may stay in one spot ignoring developments in its circle that may be of critical importance or missing opportunities as they present themselves. For example, an organization that sees itself as a children s welfare program delivery entity may miss the opportunity presented by introducing an advocacy function or find itself irrelevant by assuming that children live in traditional family structures. The strategic planning process is the plan that puts your group in the centre of the circle, always focusing on both external and internal information that allows for your board to consider everything so that they are able to make essential informed decisions that keep the organization moving in one direction rather than many all at the same time. It is the Board of Directors responsibility to develop the strategic plan then have the Senior management team develops the actions to implement the plan. It is through the management team that staff learn the direction of the strategic plan and begin the work of implementing the plan. But it is the board of directors that is ultimately responsible for the strategic direction and it must be approved by the board. It is the complementation of the boards different experiences and perspectives and the managements knowledge of the organizations programs that make the strategic plan successful. 4

8 Long term versus short term planning When considering a strategic plan, it is best to consider where the organization will be in a certain number of years down the road. The strategic plan are most effective when they work with a long term goal of anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the stability of the organization and its environment. The more unstable the environment, the use of short term goals is more effective. A good strategic plan looks further down the road utilizing a planned set of objectives to get them there. The objectives will look at road from a shorter perspective but are aimed to get you down the road, measuring achievements at set checkpoints. It is important to remember that your strategic plan is not carved in gold. It will need to be revisited periodically by the board to ensure that it still represents the best course for the organization. This strategic planning cycle is the process of considering any internal or external factors along with progress and any challenges that may arise during the strategic planning term. This is the time to make any adjustments to the strategies or refocus on certain ones depending on any new information or situations. 5

9 Putting the Plan into Action It is vital to keep the strategic plan as precise and focused as possible. Strategies should be clear statements of particular direction and should emphasize the goal. Because of this, the whole strategic direction may fit on one page. The strategic objectives are directives and put emphasis on specific measurable results. It is from the action plan that the series of strategies (goals) are listed and may have a number of strategic objectives (activities) attached to it. It may also include detailed actions, but these are left to management to develop and implement. For example, a goal maybe to increase awareness of your local in your area, but it will be the managers of your local that develop how this will happen. 6

10 The Difference between Strategic and Business Objectives The Strategic plan deals with the overall direction which is vital to the future of the organization. It does not deal with the day to day operations of the organizations, which are very important but may not represent the overall direction. An example may be a plan to create a new member database for your local which is an important business objective but holds little strategic content. The strategic plan is the direction in which the organization is moving, while the business plan is part of how they will get there. The business plan lays out the measurable objectives including those relating to the strategic direction so that staff have an understanding of the direction their program should be moving towards. This would include who is going to do what by when. Depending on the size of your local, it is important to address both types of plans but it is not crucial as long as both types of objectives are addressed. For smaller organizations, a single, detailed plan will likely be sufficient. Try to limit your strategies so that they can be accomplished. Too many strategies may defeat the purpose of a strategic plan because it does not provide the focus that organizations need to put the plan into action and word towards the end result. Depending on the organization and environment, a good strategic plan may have as few as one strategic direction but up to five. Please see Strategic Plan Template 7

11 Managing the Business Plan A strong board will take responsibility for the strategic plan and the development of it. It is the management of the organization that carries the workload in development of other plans and in the business planning process in general. By setting the overall direction of the organization, the board hands over the reins to management on how best to get there. The business plan is developed by management and only goes to the board for approval. The board will then undertake its oversight responsibilities through monitoring the overall performance of the organization. In the case of very small organizations, a board committee may take on the business planning details and return to the board for approval. 8

12 Making the Strategic Plan work for the Organization Now that the work has been done on the Strategic Plan the work becomes about implementing it. The next step in the process is for the plan to result in action. Specific objectives and how they will be measured will make it easier to put the plan into action. It is in the objectives and related measures equaled with specific responsibilities and accountabilities that will make the strategic plan a success. The articulation of measurements and accountabilities are the link between an organization s objectives and its actual performance. The board of directors determines and monitors the overall direction of the organization. It is then transferred to the Executive Director and the management team to put the direction into action. Management will arrange itself around all the objectives to create detailed objectives and goals related to the direction from the board. The management team will decide who is responsible and accountable for the achievement of those objectives. It is translated further still so that all employee s know what is expected of them. The management team maps out the performance of the organization and connects it to the performance of departments and individuals. A good strategic plan is reflective in the individual performance of staff and the measurable activities of the programs that connect to the organizational objectives and recognition is based on this foundation of success. 9

13 Management of Performance is a Dynamic Process It is important that the management team put a measurement mechanism into place that helps them to gauge the direction of the organization in relation to its overall objectives. A baseline measurement could be as simple as completing a particular project. It could also mean taking a measurement in the middle of a project. This would entail creating a way to measure the current state of the project to see if it met the set objective. For example, if the organization sets an objective of increasing their local membership by 50% within a two year period, a mechanism must be in place for knowing the not only the current number of members, but also a system that tracks new members, this will assist in taking periodic progress measurements so they can be properly evaluated. In any case, management must take periodic measurements on all objectives and summarize these to determine overall organizational performance. This could be done monthly to keep all staff focused on the objectives for which they are accountable. This provides an early warning system for elements of the plan that may not be working or that may have been missed so that management can take the opportunity to correct it. This process of checking and adjusting the plan continues over the life of the plan. Periodically, the Executive Director will report back to the board of directors on progress towards the objectives. 10

14 Succession Planning For Key Board and Staff Positions Succession planning is when you groom or train a board or staff member for a position in case that position needs to be filled. This could be for many different reasons, retirement, leave of absence but it is in the organization s best interest to have someone who could take over a key position in case this happens. Key positions that are supported by management through the sharing of contacts and knowledge of job duties are what strengthens an organization and ensures the continuity of programming in any situation. This process is usually coordinated by the human resources manager but is implemented by the management team. Many locals have board of directors that consist of volunteers. Some of these volunteers have been essential to the creation of the local and know the history because they were apart of it since the inception of the organization. These are the board members whose succession must be planned for so that their knowledge and expertise does not leave with them when they choose to leave. The successor that is chosen for either a board position or key executive position, must meet a certain criteria that has been developed by the management team. It is the responsibility of the board to ensure through the Executive Director that succession planning for essential personnel is part of the overall plan. At the board level, a nominations committee should identify those board members and members of the executive management team whose loss would be detrimental to the organization, inviting the assistance of the Executive Director if they need it. For each of the identified individuals, a risk mitigation strategy should be in place. Risk mitigation strategies can include the following: Staggering board terms so that no two board members with the same strategic contribution leave at the same time Duplication of expertise or connectivity on the board Ensuring that key committees have a mix of old and new board members Mentoring arrangements within the board Broadening the number of board members involved as committee chairs However, for each identified individual there should also be a strategy for their replacement should the need arise. The nominating committee should recruit board members who have the appropriate expertise or connections, so that to a certain extent, replacements for key board positions are ready to take on the role of the person leaving. In the case of the Executive Director, the nominations committee should have at least two internal candidates who have the potential to perform the function of 11

15 Executive Director. This could be either a short or long term solution but it is essential that the successor is as ready as possible. For example, the Executive Director may shuffle the management team in order to provide essential experience to one or two potential succession candidates. Inclusion in board meetings, or funding meetings will enhance their experience through a mentorship approach. Smaller organizations may not have the opportunity for succession planning as that of a larger group, but there still needs to be a plan to replace this position for a variety of reasons. Preparing internal candidates for the Executive Director role does not mean that they will replace the Executive Director, but it prepares the organization in case of emergency. The ideal number of two candidates is to ensure that in any event, one of them will be able and willing to take on the role. 12

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